This space has been quiet over the past month as we relished the results from Thomas’ scan and enjoyed Christmas together, healthy and thankful. I have a love/hate relationship with blogging as I have discussed in detail before and with the all clear news, there didn’t seem to be much to write since my original intent had been to keep people informed on Thomas’ progress and health. I am assuming it is mostly my close friends who choose to check in here now (hi friends!) so here are some of my thoughts as we approach the one year anniversary of Thomas’ diagnosis.
Most of December I found myself remembering the events from last year – the things we did, the people we saw, the events we participated in – all in the light of Thomas’ diagnosis that was coming, even though we didn’t know it at the time. I thought of how he had acted last December – not himself, edgy, irritable. In the moment it is so hard to know what is what and I realize that only God’s grace got us through that time. It is almost harder to remember the time when we didn’t know what was happening with him and how it was almost missed than to think of his treatment. My dear friend asked me today how I was doing with the anniversary of many momentous and traumatic events approaching. This week I actually haven’t thought too much about it. I realize the anxiety over knowing now how much we missed is present but at the same time, I also realize God’s grace to me. He gave me the intuition to know something was wrong even when we thought we had a clear diagnosis. My stomach flips when I think about what could have been but then equal peace floods over me as I realize Thomas was held in God’s hand even when we were clueless. I do think of the enormous tumor growing and taking over Thomas’ body while none of us knew a thing. And then I stop and marvel at how wondrously we are made; we take breaths and our hearts’ beat and we take it all for granted until something suddenly stops to make us aware of the miracle it all is. It is all simply a miracle. Each breath.
I look at Thomas and I almost want to cry. He recently said his best memory of 2012 was when I sang “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” before he went into surgery. Oh my. I cried, thankful for this glimpse into his soul. Nearly everyday I have at least one moment when I can’t believe any of it happened at all. I look at him with his full head of hair and I find it hard to recall the lethargic, vomiting boy from only a few months ago. He regularly bugs me for food and I am happy to say I haven’t resented it once, recalling the agony of trying to get him to eat through all those months of chemo. Just as in cancer, life doesn’t stop in health. So in the midst of these rememberings and recollections, Titus still screams, the laundry mounts, Sophia and Eva fight, music is played, Theo and Mece giggle, meals are prepared and eaten and life goes on. I knew in those early days of treatment that the rhythm of our lives was a form of salvation for me even though it seemed overwhelming and unmanageable. That I had people to care for was a grace. And now too, the rhythm of life, of simple, daily routines, carries us on as we walk through the memories and experiences of January 2012.
I know this coming year will hold unexpected moments of grief and pain as I recall all we endured together. But to have Thomas alive and living in strength assuages the pain. It comes but almost as soon as it comes his life springs up before me and it washes away, kind of like riding waves in the ocean. I also know in a tangible way the Lord’s presence through all the trauma – His nearness and love that I experienced in a more profound way than I ever have before, that I can do nothing but cry. I am crying now as I sit in a cafe in Denver, writing. Oh well.
In another deep and unexplainable paradox, facing death has removed its power. For now (I am sure I will face it again) the fear of the unknown, the future, the bad things that might happen, are all gone as I realize the fleeting grip we have on anything in this life. Somehow coming to the end of control frees me to hold on to the only constant in my life – God. In Him all things are held – the future of my children and all whom I love. There is peace in accepting I don’t know.
I look forward to this week of remembering and I think that whether in sickness or health my aim is still the same – love. Last year we faced our deepest fears and found the Lord deeper than the darkest hole. This year, we look forward to health and know the Lord is more satisfying than our best moments. And my aim is this….
Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. Only as this begins to happen will I be delivered from treating the gifts of God as yet another set of things I may acquire to make me happy, or to dominate other people. And as this process unfolds, I become more free – to borrow a phrase of St. Augustine – ‘to love human beings in a human way’, to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots. – Archbishop Rowan Williams